The eighteenth-century Enlightenment was a movement of intellectuals who were greatly impressed with the achievements of the Scientific Revolution. One of the favorite words of these intellectuals was reason, by which they meant the application of the scientific method to the understanding of all life. They believed that institutions and all systems of thought were subject to the rational, scientific way of thinking if people would only free themselves from past, worthless traditions, especially religious ones.
Even though Enlightenment started in the eighteenth century, it was a result of intellectual ideas from the seventeenth century, especially
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The Enlightenment was a truly international movement, but most of the leaders of the Enlightenment were French. The French writer and philosopher Voltaire was considered one of the central figures of the Age of Enlightenments. Voltaire was especially known for his criticism of Christianity. He championed deism, a system of thought that denies the interference of he Creator with the laws of the universe. A French philosopher and writer Denis Diderot contributed the Encyclopedia that reflected European intellectual thought during the Enlightenment. Probably the most famous of these philosophes was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He expounded the view that science, art, and social institutions have corrupted humankind and that the natural, or primitive, state is morally superior to the civilized state.
The age of the Enlightenment changed the world of culture and economy. For centuries, male intellectuals argued that the nature of women is inferior to men and made male domination of women necessary. However, the new movement for women?fs right called feminism was born in the age of Enlightenment. The strongest statement was advanced by the English writer Mary Wollstonecraft. She argued that women should have equal rights with men in education, as well as in economic and political life. Enlightenment thought had some impact on the political life and social equality of European states in the